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Photo of Margaret Blower

Margaret Blower

Hostel Tablemaid
Birthplace Dumfriesshire Maxwelltown Scotland Date of Birth: February 8, 1898

Biography

 Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) :Margaret ‘Maggie’ Blower
Gender: Female
Date and place of birth: 8th February 1898, Maxwelltown, Dumfries
Date and Place of Death: Not known
Nationality: Scottish
Childhood: Lived with grandparents aged 3, mother died around the same time. Father died when 14.
Parents: John and Mary nee McCreadie
Parents occupations: Coal miner- hewer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: None known
Occupation: Hostel Tablemaid
Place of residence at Gretna: No. 8 Butterdales, Dornock
Marital status: Married a bigamist Herbert Taylor Jan 1918 quickly annulled
Children: None known
Travels: None
 Awards/recognitions: None
Positions held: None
Trivia / any other information: Yes Bibliography

Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
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Biography 

Margaret ‘Maggie’ Blower 1898-?

During WW1 Margaret,  known as Maggie, Blower was employed at H.M. Factory Gretna as a tablemaid at Newfoundland House, Butterdales, Dornock a hostel for some of the workers. It was there that she met and was wooed by Herbert Taylor. Herbert was an alias of Irvine Bentley. He was employed as a foreman at the coal depot. 

On 8th January 1918 , 19 year old Margaret married 47 year old Herbert in a  Salvation Army service at Moat Rd, Annan. Her given address at the time was No 8, Butterdales, Dornock. 

Herbert lied about his name, he lied about his age which he falsified as 38 on the marriage registration and he falsified his deceased parent’s family name changing it to Taylor which was in fact his mother’s maiden name. Irvine was born in 1873. 

Within days of this marriage Irvin/Herbert was arrested, charged and imprisoned for 30 days for the theft of coal. Whatever alerted the authorities to the fact that he was already married to Sarah in Halifax is unclear but on release from prison he was rearrested and charged with fraud ( bigamy). The Dumfries and Galloway Standard dated 20th March 1918 reports the full case.  As a result, there is an amendment to the marriage records in the official records. This is the last that is known of Maggie. Whether she ever married, had children or when she died is not evident. 

During research of Irvin Bentley it became clear that not only was he married to two women but 3. There is evidence that he lied his way through each of the marriages, falsifying names, occupations and ages and he had spent a lot of time in prison for assaulting his first wife, arson, theft, begging and other petty crimes being described as a tramp in one instance. Originally from Bradford, his time on the road coincided with a fire in a haystack recorded in the Stockton local paper of the time. ( for details refer to Irvin Bentley biography.)

Margaret  was born on 8th February 1898 at ? Terrace , Maxwelltown, Dumfries to John and Mary nee McCreadie. John ,born in Farnworth, Lancashire and Mary of Dumfries.  There is evidence in census returns of a lot of movement between Dumfrieshire and Farnworth of this family. Curiously John’s address on the birth registration is 25 Brewery Street , Dumfries and he is described as a seasonal labourer. Margaret appears to be the 3rd child of 4. 

John and Mary married in Farnworth, near Bolton, Lancashire on 15th August 1891. The 1891 census indicates that 20 year old John was a coal miner and the eldest son of a coal miner. It can be assumed therefore that he was in the same occupation at the time of his marriage. There is no evident 1891 census for Mary but the 1881 census places her as a 10 year old scholar in Farnworth, the daughter of a police constable and the whole family having been born in Scotland – no detail of town or place.

The next English census in 1901 does not include Maggie. Her parents are at Mansfield Road , Farnworth as are her siblings, Thomas 10 ( born 1891), Joseph 6 ( born 1895) and William E 1 ( born 1900). 

Maggie is staying with  her maternal grandparents at 4 St Marnock Place, Kilmarnock. Her grandfather , former police constable is now a gas work labourer , born in Ayr. Her aunts Agnes and Louisa 28 and 16 are listed as “ bar maid”. The youngest aunt is Henrietta, aged 8. Maggie is 3. 

The 1911 census shows that Margaret has re joined her father in Lancashire. It is not clear what happened to her mother , she probably died but we don’t know when. It can be narrowed down to some time between the 1901 census and 1903 as in this census we learn that John has been married to  a second wife for 8 years. Listed at 64, Gorton New Road, New Bury, Lancashire , 41 year old  John is a coal hewer married for 8 years to 49 year old Betsy of Farnworth. Joseph at 17 is a piecer in a cotton mill – cotton spinning, Margaret ( Maggie) at 14 is a doffer in a spinning room, Edward ( William E ) at 12 is a scholar who we now learn was born in Ayrshire indicating that the family moved around. There is a 7 year old daughter, Jane to this marriage , born in Farnworth. There is also an indication that one child has not survived. This house has 5 rooms. 

We know that Maggie’s father died in October 1911 when she was 14. This left her with her step mother and siblings. 

Maggie, now orphaned, and her brother William Edward dying in 1916 , the cause is unknown, must have seen an opportunity of returning to Dumfries as a golden opportunity. Her grandparents possibly still lived in Dumfries which could be the address on George St, reported in the bigamy case . 

At the time of her marriage in January 1918, she was living at No. 8 Butterdales, Dornock. Probably today she would be described as a vulnerable young lady and we cannot begin to imagine the devastation she felt following this marriage.

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